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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Commentary: Tackling interagency transactions can enhance transparency

The challenge of reconciling interagency transactions has preoccupied government managers for several decades. John Cox, chief financial officer for the Housing and Urban Development Department, recently identified it as a “$100 billion problem” — the difficulty of accounting for sales activity among agencies has clearly stifled financial performance in addition to being a primary barrier to delivering a governmentwide consolidated financial statement.
Until now, discussion has focused mainly on manual research and reconciliation of the interagency out-of-balance problem, which clearly remains the most urgent priority for most federal CFOs to reconcile.

At the same time, does the implementation of an intergovernmental transactions (IGT) management solution offer us a chance to look beyond this immediate need alone? IGT management is bound to be an integral part of the financial management structure at any agency, and the way it’s integrated, deployed and utilized will affect transparency and accountability overall.

Such a strategic view of interagency financial transactions can enable federal managers to address a broad range of priorities as well as anticipate the needs of their agencies for years to come. With access to modern tools, managers can deploy a commercial IGT reconciliation system in a way that will not only resolve interagency imbalances but also provide expanded benefits that can include intradepartmental transparency, more sophisticated internal controls or grant management capabilities.

-Eva Robinson and Doug Davidson, FederalTimes.com

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